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3 November 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Filipino-Americans should make their voices heard by taking part in next week’s midterm elections in the United States and in the 2016 presidential elections in the Philippines.

This was the message conveyed by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. to members of the Filipino-American Community in Anchorage during a visit to Alaska over the weekend.

“I firmly believe it is important for our community members and organizations to reach out and add to the collective voice of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in this country,” Ambassador Cuisia said in his remarks during the annual banquet of the Maharlika Inc., the largest Filipino-American organization in Anchorage.

The Maharlika event, which drew as many as 400 guests, was also attended by Sen. Mark Begich, a former mayor of Anchorage, who has been actively involved with the Filipino-American Community in Alaska.

Ambassador Cuisia made the call to the Filipino-American Community a few days before Americans head to the polls. Up for grabs in the November 4 general elections are all the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of 100 seats in the Senate as well as 38 state and territorial governorships and numerous state and local races.

Ambassador Cuisia said Filipinos constitute the second largest Asian-American group with a population of over 3.4 million, including over 30,000 in Alaska based on the latest figures.

Ambassador Cuisia lamented that despite these numbers, Filipino-Americans remain largely “under the radar” in terms of presence and voice in policy-making, advocacy groups, business and the arts, among other fields.

“But there is potential to make our presence felt and valued in mainstream US society,” he said as he also called on Filipino-Americans to also participate in elections for a new president and other national and local officials in the Philippines less than two years from now.

“To ensure that your concerns are heard by policy-makers, I encourage you to take on a more active role in political advocacy first by registering as voters in the US and, if you are a dual citizen, as overseas voters and then taking the all important step of voting in elections,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“This shows your seriousness and your commitment as a community to be part of the decision-making process in this country and also back home,” he added. “Your political leanings do not matter.  What is crucial is that you do exercise this civic duty.”

In his remarks before introducing Ambassador Cuisia, Senator Begich paid tribute to the Filipino-American Community in Alaska, citing the important role Filipinos play in local business, civic affairs and in the military.

“Everyone here knows the prominent place Filipinos play in Alaska’s development, dating back to the fur trade. Many of your ancestors settled in Alaska to work in the fishing and seafood processing industries,” said Senator Begich.

“If all Alaskans valued family and community and worked as hard as my friends in the Filipino Community, the world certainly would be a better place,” Senator Begich said.

“With such a strong Filipino community comes influence. With more than 30,000 Filipino-Americans in Alaska, you can have real power in the voting booth,” he said. “You can change the outcome of elections.”

During his visit to Anchorage, Ambassador Cuisia also met with other Filipino-American Community leaders and was also interviewed by Filam Showtime, a program that is aired regularly by an Anchorage television station. He also attended Mass with members of the Filipino-American Community. ###